The history of the DEADBEAT Series is long and strange. The two central characters, Max Jackson and Tom Harris, were ciphers for myself and Steve Newman, a fellow writer and theatre director. He got me a job writing a bizarre online serial and I created them by of a thank you, putting them in an adventure with Ernest Hemingway (the subject of Steve's serial). It was a joke. As a passing point of interest, the adventure was called THE BREATH OF GOD, a title I would later use for my first Sherlock Holmes novel. L
Later, I'd had an idea to write a fun pulp-crime novella with some heavy fantasy leanings (this is me after all, never stick with reality of you can help it). The two of them seemed exactly what the story needed.
That novella had an awkward birth. Originally written for a specific publisher I later withdrew it when it became clear that I couldn't make the changes they wanted without losing the love I had for the story in the first place. This wasn't an argument I hasten to add, the editor simply had a very strong idea of what they wanted to see and I realised I wasn't the writer to provide it. Two things they were insistent on: you can't tell a novella from more than one viewpoint (the Deadbeat stories leap from one first person narrator to another) and you can't mix horror and comedy. I didn't agree with either (though fully understood their reservations on both points).
So I'd written a novella and there was nobody to publish it. Being utterly unaware of the potential flak such a move would cause, I put it out myself through a small company I had created with Steve Newman and Lee Thompson. Avoiding discussion of the merits or failures in the notion of self-publishing (life's too short) I'll just say that it seemed a waste to leave it unread and shoved it out there without much thought. I wasn't writing for a living back then and I knew nothing about the business. Luckily it didn't do me any harm, people seemed to like it. It got some nice reviews and was short-listed for a British Fantasy Award. I was pleased.
I wrote a second novella a couple of years later, intending to make it a regular series. By then, though, I was writing for a living and just never found the time to do book three.
Over the years I have frequently taken the stories out and looked at them, occasionally sounding out publishers. In fact, it was DEADBEAT I tried to sell to Angry Robot first, with the THE WORLD HOUSE a hasty replacement idea when they decided it was too similar to an urban fantasy series they were publishing.
I wondered about it as a comic, a TV series, a radio show... the idea and the characters were always there, just waiting for me to find somewhere to place them. Finally, after I had started working with Titan on the Sherlock Holmes novels, Max and Tom found their chance.
The books contain some of the material from the original novellas but for the most part they're entirely re-written. Ten years had passed between them and there's a world of difference between the plot of a novella and that of a full-length novel. That said, Max and Tom are finally back, ready to reach a mass audience.
One interesting thing (to me at least): When I first wrote Max he was me. Oh there were differences in circumstances of course, but his personality, his attitude... all utterly mine. When I went back to the original, not only did I find I didn't recognise him but I found I didn't even like him very much. We change more than we realise. Now I can finally let him be his own man... More details about each book at the links on the right.